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The Future of Office Cleaning

Have you ever seen Wall-E? It’s a futuristic film about… cleaning, of all things. To sum it up, in the future, humans have abandoned Earth on huge spaceships. They’ve left behind a filthy, polluted wasteland, void of all life.

The only inhabitants we see throughout the film are a little (and surprisingly cute) cockroach, a plant, and the film’s titular character, Wall-E. Wall-E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter: Earth-Class) is the last operational cleaning robot on the planet, who goes about his day cleaning up and picking out interesting objects as he finds them.

It’s a children’s film, but quite an artful one, and it tells a parable of what might happen to our planet if we keep treating it as we currently do.

But does it show us a possible future of office cleaning, with self-aware robots doing our dirty work?

Or is it just pure sci-fi?

We’ve already asked in another post, Should You Get an Office Roomba, whether automation can beat humans at office cleaning. And the long and short of it is – no.

Not yet, anyway.

But what about five, ten – twenty years from now?

The future of office cleaning is human-led

It looks like office cleaning is always going to be headed by humans – for the simple fact that people like working with people, and machines don’t really come up with novel solutions to complex problems. Machines are, however, very good at executing commands and doing repetitive work.

Take sewing machines as an example. These things revolutionised the textile industry and transformed our relationship with clothing, by automating the sewing process. But this never stopped designers and outfitters doing their jobs.

And what about the automotive industry – where production lines are famously filled with robotic, computer-controlled arms, lifting components and welding cars together? They’re still heavily reliant on humans checking in, running maintenance, and overseeing quality.

Just as it is in these industries, office cleaning will be human-led. Probably forever. Or at least until we decide to do a Wall-E and abandon the planet!

That being said, the progress being made daily in AI (artificial intelligence ) technology and robotics is startling. Computers have the power to generate whole CGI worlds, from a simple line of text. And robots, like those from Boston Dynamics and Tesla, are eerily capable of mimicking human movement.

It’s not hard to see how, together, these two technologies could enable machines to do basically anything a human can do.

But it’s not quite there yet.

Computers are currently very good at manipulating and generating text and images – digital stuff that they can be trained on with the vast amount of information available on the internet. But what’s harder is training a robot how to mop and dust in anything other than a highly controlled, laboratory situation.

That kind of thing hasn’t really been digitised; and while a human office cleaner will automatically know that they need to dry dust one surface and vacuum another, a robot will have zero clue to the context or the difference – unless it is explicitly told.

Let’s flash forward another ten years.

With cameras absolutely everywhere, let’s say CCTV and other footage of office cleaners at work has been uploaded to the cloud in enough volume that AI has been able to train itself reliably on how to do a full office clean.

This knowledge could be uploaded to a humanoid robot like the Tesla one, and get on with the job.

It might even do a really good job.

And the whole process could be controlled from an app, assuming phones are still a thing; you could order an office cleaner online, a robot would show up, do the clean – and be gone.

Flash forward another ten years from that – and the same could be happening in every industry. The barista serving your morning coffee. Your barber, hairdresser, mechanic… but where does it stop – and do we really want this to be the future?

Despite the rumours – people still really like people

It’s easy to automate stuff – well, after the pioneers do all the hard groundwork, at least. But there are some things that should always be human-led.

We want and need human interaction, as much as we tend to deny it.

And office cleaning is another one of those things. Sure, a robot and an app seems convenient – you could automate schedules and sort out cleaning times with ease – but as convenient as it is, it’s also cold.

We love the relationships we have with our clients. Of course, it’s all professional – but some have become more like friends. And that would be such a shame to lose.

We really do believe that, even in 50 years when the technology has matured to perfection, people will reject a lot of it. Kind of like at the end of Wall-E, where the screens and mobility scooters all get binned off for walking, holding hands and talking face-to-face.

Because we are, despite the rumours, social creatures. And we like having other people around.

Even if it is just to help us sort an office cleaning schedule.

Office Cleaning Services – for Today, for Tomorrow

Get professional office cleaning from The Abbey Cleaning Service. Call 029 2067 9323 today, and find out how we’ll help get your office stain-free – without disrupting your work day.

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